Parish History

On September 22, 1913, William Cardinal O’Connell carved a new parish out of the parishes of St. Rose, Chelsea and Immaculate Conception, Everett, due to an increase in the population of both parishes. Reverend Peter C. Quinn, assistant at the Church of the Blessed Sacrament, Jamaica Plain, was appointed first pastor of the new Our Lady of Grace Parish. On September 28, 1913, the first Mass was celebrated in the Prattville School hall and for six months thereafter.

Meanwhile Reverend Quinn resided at the St. Rose Rectory until late in 1913 when the former residence of George H. Buck, proprietor of the Eastern Storage Company, located on Everett Avenue and Maple Street, was purchased.

Photo Taken Sept 27, 1917

 

This residence at 59 Nichols Street, became the Our Lady of Grace Rectory, still serving as such today. A portable church building was erected between the Rectory and the present day church. Every function held in this building was a capacity attendance.

Photo of Nichols Street Late 1917

 

 

After almost three years of remarkable accomplishments at Our Lady of Grace Parish, Father Quinn was not to see the completed fruits of his efforts. Early in 1916, Father Quinn was appointed pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes Church, Jamaica Plain, being replaced at Our Lady of Grace by Reverend Thomas A. Walsh.

The cornerstone for Our Lady of Grace church was laid August 5, 1916. The Completed church was dedicated by Cardinal O’Connell on May 20, 1917. (See article below)

The man responsible for the initial groundwork of the new church was not present bodily. Father Quinn had contracted influenza and died shortly after leaving Our Lady of Grace.

Photo of Our Lady of Grace showing the original facade later removed due to structural problems.

In 1927, a large tract of land next to the church and extending to Harvard Street was presented in the form of a gift, to the Our Lady of Grace Parish by Alton B. Atwood. Mr. Atwood was treasurer of the Atwood and McManus Box Company on Everett Avenue, Chelsea. On October 14, 1924, a meeting was held between the clergy and the parishioners and it was decided to build a school on the newly acquired property. A sum of $50,000 was raised to begin construction. Plans were drawn up by Architect Mathew Sullivan of Boston with builders A. B. Carter and Sons also of Boston. When completed the building held sixteen classrooms and an auditorium, the latest in style, with terraced seats and with a motion picture booth at the rear.

Ground was broken for the new school on September 24, 1927. The school building was completed in 1929. The Sisters of St. Joseph were brought in to run the school with Sister Mary Martina as the first principal. The first Convent was located in one of the dwellings on the Harvard Street side of the new school property.

During his Pastorship, Father Walsh paid off the cost of the construction of the church and school. Father Walsh passed away in 1942 after twenty-seven years as Pastor of Our Lady of Grace. Reverend E. Joseph Burke succeeded Father Walsh. While Pastor, Father Burke purchased the Hermon Pratt home on Nichols and Franklin Streets and had it remodeled for a Convent. Reverend James Grimes became pastor in 1949, and had additional classrooms added to the school plus improvements to the church interior.

Our Lady of Grace School

Photo: August 20, 1935

Father Joseph Healy took over as pastor in 1959. He purchased the William Murdoch property next to the Convent on Nichols Street. With this property, Father Healy remodeled and enlarged the Convent; and an eighty car parking lot was established on Nichols Street. Reverend Jerome P. Gill, a Navy Chaplain in World War II, replaced Father Healy as Pastor in 1968, making many structural repairs to church and school.

Reverend Bernard Sullivan was appointed Pastor upon the retirement of Father Gill. Father Sullivan arrived in June 1985. Before he could enact his plans, Father Sullivan died suddenly in December 1985. Reverend Bernard Lane was next to assume the duties of Pastor. During 1990 and 1991, while Father Lane was Pastor, the facade over the front doors of the church was found to be precarious and was removed. An elevator was installed making all sections of the church, plus parking, handicap accessible. These were the first structural and external changes since the church’s dedication.

In 1993, Reverend James Barry became Pastor. Father Barry has continued the legacy of structural and spiritual growth at Our Lady of Grace that was begun by his pastoral predecessors. In the past years the upper stained glass windows of the church were repaired along with the elimination of roof leaks which were causing structural deterioration. Additionally, one of the large stain glass windows was rebuilt. A modern handicapped rest room was created in Father Sullivan Hall which meets all the requirements. The church sanctuary area was completely remodeled as was the remainder of the church which received a new sub floor and tiles. The seats were moved and arranged at an angle to create a greater sense of participation.

Aside from attending to structural maintenance and repairs, Father Barry has been responding to the pastoral and social needs of the church community and its neighbors. As a result the parishioners are experiencing a more unified community of love and closeness that was never before experienced.

 

Dedication of Our Lady of Grace from
newspaper article of May 21, 1917

 
Photos and historical information courtesy of George Ostler Sr., Chelsea Historical